And so it would seem that we have come full circle. My very first post for COETAIL described the Long Strange Trip to my PLN. Now that we are coming to the end, its time to revisit this magical group of people who qualify me as a connected educator and help me continue to grow and learn.
So, what does it mean to be connected?
It means after struggling alone in the dark with a pile of ideas, wondering if they are going to work and finally finding the secret that lights up the night. My PLN is full of educators and non-educators Who are happy to provide feedback. Honest feedback. The kind that helps. They’re supportive when I need it but also challenge me to think about the other side of things or look at something in a different way. They are filled with fantastic imaginations, incredible resources and a never ending dose of positivity.
It means linking up with others that do similar jobs so that you can work together and be more efficient. I’ve recently found #ISEdCoach that has become a fantastic resource for coaching tips and articles to read. I even helped to moderate a chat at one point this past year.
It means finding a bit of sunshine on a rainy day. My friends from #BFC530, the original chat that got me involved in Twitter, are always full of positivity. There’s someone popping up in my feed just saying hello or checking in wondering how things are going. Its pretty amazing to have friends that actually know a few things about you even though you’ve never actually met.
It means running into a wall throwing out a rope and your friends pulling you over. I’ve been on the receiving end of so many generous gestures of sharing information. From everything I could ever need to plan an EdCamp to a folder full of over a dozen examples of job descriptions my PLN has come through when I needed it.
Case in point.
My original intention for this post was to include some animated GIFs. I really wanted to use Chevy Chase lighting up his house in Christmas Vacation. Because, you know, that was a big connection.
But then I started wondering about citations and fair use for animated GIFs made with copyrighted material. Enter my PLN.
— Ryan Harwood (@rharwood17) April 4, 2016
— Alan Levine (@cogdog) April 5, 2016
— Geoff Derry ADE (@gderry) April 6, 2016
That was only a portion of the conversation. Ideas and thoughts continued to trickle in over the course of a couple of days. It turns out there’s a lot of grey around the idea. No one had a clear answer. In the end I decided to steer clear.
Over the past two years I’ve also continued my work developing the #AfricaEd chat. Its been an up and down experience for sure. There have been weeks where I felt like the whole world was chiming in on our conversations and others when it was just me and the crickets. But that’s part of the growth right? If it was easy all the time, it wouldn’t be a challenge, we wouldn’t learn from it and everyone would host their own chat.
Figuring out what the hot topics are and what topics are really meaningful is a big challenge. There are lots of feel good chats out there that allow teachers to pat each other on the back and talk about how great they are. I’m hoping to create a bit deeper conversation about best practice and the changes that need to occur. Then discuss how we make that happen. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Some weeks I’m sure I’ve got a winner and it just doesn’t go anywhere.
Today was a good one though and #coetail even got several mentions. It may have only been three or four of us in the conversation but it was quality and how else do you have a semi-asynchronus conversation between Ghana, Kuwait, Qatar and Ethipoia?
So where does this leave us? For one it leaves us quite connected.
I’ve got over a thousand colleagues at my finger tips (ok, some of those might be sports stars and musicians and such) to confer and with which to learn.
But most importantly, I think it leaves us happy, well rounded and with friends from around the world.
Oh, and then there’s this. I had to have one GIF after all that conversation…